Jul 142017

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

As small businesses look to compete, grow and develop in today’s fast-paced digital world, they need first-class connectivity that will support their business needs today and far in to the future, one of Scotland’s leading experts in digital industry has said.
According to Graeme Gordon (pictured), Chief Exec of Aberdeen-headquartered IFB – a leading managed service and data network provider – keeping apace of the digital transformation will ensure firms are not overtaken by competitors, giving opportunities to increase productivity and future-proof their businesses as the thirst for greater bandwidth continues to grow.

“Digital technology is developing at rapid speeds, and although small businesses may find it hard to keep up, we’re constantly working on new solutions to ensure all businesses, regardless of size, can stay ahead and have access to the best digital connectivity for their business and to suit their needs,” comments Graeme.

“There is now a new wave of full fibre digital infrastructure available in Aberdeen and Edinburgh which provides superior connectivity speeds, and opens up greater opportunities for businesses. World-class connectivity is the key to success for running any business in the digital age. That’s why we’re constantly striving to meet businesses’ digital needs now and for decades to come.”

Powered by this new full fibre infrastructure, IFB Ultrafast offers lightning speeds to support businesses and help them grow and take up new opportunities that the digital economy offers. It’s a platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – the backbone of Scotland’s economy – to be part of the latest tech transformation with connectivity that is fast, reliable and fit for purpose, as speeds and connectivity take on even more relevance to the way business is done.

An increasing number of everyday business services and applications are now online and used as a matter of routine, these cover banking, accounting, sales tools, customer management systems, voice telephony and critical data backup and recovery systems   – all of which need to be accessed reliably and securely to support  the day-to-day workings of all modern businesses.

Graeme adds:

“Connectivity is at the heart of how all businesses operate and the next stage has arrived. This state-of-the-art full fibre digital infrastructure provides blistering connectivity speeds to support SMEs now and moving forward.”

The ultrafast network is delivered by IFB and powered by CityFibre in Aberdeen and Edinburgh – two of Scotland’s ‘Gigabit Cities’. It is being hailed as an affordable independent network offering superior speeds that leads to increased efficiency and productivity by dramatically accelerating the digital capabilities of business, providing quick data transfers between locations for backup and recovery.

To find out more call 0845 270 2101 or email geton@ifb.net

Aberdeen-based IFB is one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers. For over 20 years IFB has been providing critical connectivity and ICT services to the UK market place. Its key markets include the demanding on and offshore oil and gas sector, professional services and public and third sector. It designs, deploys, manages and supports key services including Cloud, Backup and Recovery, Internet Access, Networks, Hosting, Workplace Recovery and Telecoms through national, multi-Gbit/s network that links Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London points of presence.

IFB can be contacted on 0845 270 2101 or geton@ifb.net. More about the company can be found at www.ifb.net

CityFibre is the UK’s builder of Gigabit Cities and the national alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure. It has major metro duct and fibre footprints in 42 cities across the UK and a national long distance network that connects these cities to major data-centres across the UK and to key peering points in London.

The company has an extensive customer base spanning service integrators, enterprise and consumer service providers and mobile operators. Providing a portfolio of active and dark fibre services, CityFibre’s networks address 28,000 public sites, 7,800 mobile masts, 280,000 businesses and 4 million homes.

CityFibre is based in London, United Kingdom, and its shares trade on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange (AIM: CITY).

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Dec 162016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Graeme Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of IFB.

IFB, one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers, has invested a further £1 million to expand its UK network capacities, specifically designed to increase fibre and ultra-high speed connectivity to firms across the UK.

Effective connectivity is critical for strong modern businesses in the digital economy with the demand not just being driven by devices – laptops, tablets and smartphones, but also from more complex data in sensors built in to the environments we live in.

Through its delivery of reliable, resilient, secure and fast connectivity to 1000’s of its SME and Enterprise business customers, IFB has the ability to move large volumes of business data around.

The investment allows IFB to continue this whilst delivering next generation fibre to the premise connections, assisting its customers in competing in today’s modern digital economy.

The investment has been made in new network fibres and hardware infrastructure connecting IFB’s main network and Data Centre hubs in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London and Stavanger. As well as further enhancing the abilities of IFB’s super connected hubs in the London Internet Exchange (LINX) and at the Scottish Internet Exchange (IXScotland).

IFB also connects to Europe through trans-North Sea fibre connectivity, providing resilience and alternative routing for business data and traffic in and out of the UK. The investment is the next in a series of key developments IFB will be announcing during early 2017.

IFB’s CEO, Graeme Gordon commented:

“We are seeing rapid acceleration in the need, use and creation of diverse types of data from every shape and size of business, these businesses are sharing more data online and using more online applications and services.

“Cloud, or your data in an offsite data centre, means that getting to and from this data requires better connectivity – this ever increasing need will continue to grow as you combine more connected everyday object sensors and devices as part of The Internet of Things and as we start to talk about Industry 4.0 – seamlessly combining physical, digital and cloud based data and applications more of the time.

“We have seen a tenfold increase in bandwidth usage by our clients in the last three years driven by these and other key factors. For some time now our clients have not just been using the connections we provide to simply access the Internet, they are using it to back up and protect their data offsite, for access to online private and public applications, and to move more services such as voice and video calls off of traditional phone lines.

“This data demand calls for much higher, constant bandwidth availability simply to stand still, and in real terms much more bandwidth if you want to grow your market position. IFB’s investment means its clients can become much more productive and effective by creating and consuming the same amount of data in a much smaller period of time, or do much more in the same timescale.

“The enhanced network infrastructure also allows IFB to accelerate and deliver directly to the user, its own range of innovative and affordable cloud, data backup and hosted voice services to meet client’s individual needs.

“A recent survey by The Institute of Directors showed that 57% of its members store their data on owned or leased servers with 30% doing so in the cloud. 60% of members feel an increase in connectivity speed would improve competitiveness and 78% believed their organisation’s productivity would increase by an uplift in speed.”

IFB’s network expansion is part of a major project developed in partnership with one of its long term key technical suppliers, Softcat.

Seán Connolly, Account Director at Softcat says:

“We were delighted to collaborate with IFB to help expand their network capabilities. Our Cisco and Juniper technical design team complimented IFB’s existing skillset to deliver a robust, scalable solution fitting with IFB’s growth plans.”


Oct 212016

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

convergedpic To mark European Restart A Heart Day an Aberdeen business has installed at its premises a potentially life-saving piece of kit which can be used by the local community
North-east IT company Converged Communication Solutions has purchased a defibrillator for its premises at the Spires Business Park on Mugiemoss Road.

Local companies and residents will be able to access the equipment in an emergency during office hours.

The firm’s defibrillator is being added to the public access register which is currently being compiled by the Scottish Ambulance Service register.

This means that should anyone in close proximity suffer a cardiac arrest and require assistance, a 999 operator can direct someone to the defibrillator.

Converged, which specialises in providing Internet connections, telephone systems and IT support services, offered CPR training to its entire workforce, with around half of its 30 employees taking part.

The ‘shock box’ was fitted to coincide with European Restart A Heart Day, which is organised by the European Resuscitation Council and takes place annually on October, 16.  The initiative aims to increase survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrests by improving CPR knowledge and providing people with the confidence to use it. To mark the day, hundreds of CPR training events were held throughout Britain on Tuesday, 18 October.

Defibrillators give someone suffering a cardiac arrest more time while an ambulance gets to a patient’s location. It is estimated that every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival by 10 per cent.

Public access defibrillators are designed for anyone to use on someone in cardiac arrest. The devices talk users through the steps required, including CPR and patient analysis, and will only deliver a shock to the patient if it detects that one is required. This means that there is no chance of malicious or accidental usage.

Neil Christie, managing director at Converged, said:

“Each year, an estimated 3,500 people of all ages in Scotland suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest. The first few minutes after one has occurred is crucial to survival and defibrillation can help.  Increasing the ease of access to public access defibrillators is important in helping to improve the chances of survival.

“As a responsible employer with a growing workforce, we felt we should install a defibrillator onsite in case the need arose. The device can also be used by local businesses and nearby residents.

“European Restart A Heart Day is a great initiative to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and how to deliver CPR and defibrillation. Public access defibrillators, such as ours, are straightforward to use and guide users through the steps required. I will be encouraging the entire Converged workforce to familiarise themselves with the device and its location to mark European Restart A Heart Day.”

Converged Communication Solutions is an independent, Aberdeen-based IT support, telephony and Internet service provider. Established in 2005, the company has grown from a two-man operation into a fully integrated communications company with around 30 staff, which includes a strong technical support team. The firm provides businesses across the north-east with a single and accountable service for their telephony, Internet and networking requirements.

Converged is an official partner on CityFibre’s Aberdeen project which has brought a Gigabit speed fibre network to the city. More information about Converged Communication Solutions is available at www.converged.co.uk or by telephoning 01224 656380.

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Mar 172016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.


Aberdeen CORE, the state of the art pure fibre network, is continuing to take root transforming Aberdeen into Scotland’s first Gigabit City. Aberdeen CORE continues to be rolled out, delivering a brand new ultra-fast fibre network and helping prepare city businesses for the explosion of data predicted in the years ahead.

The work continues as the Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on new targets to be set for world-beating broadband for the UK, amid claims that the UK is lagging behind many European nations when installing fibre optic cables that enable the fastest broadband connections.

ISP provider Internet For Business (IFB) partnered with CityFibre in the multi-million pound investment that is turning Aberdeen into one of the best digitally connected cities in the world.

Graeme Gordon, chief executive officer IFB believes that ultra-fast network offers resilience to businesses in the city.

He says:

“The amount of data generated globally is set to increase by 500% over the next 5 years.  90% of the world’s current data has been created within the past 2 years. 

“This indicates the requirement for businesses to transfer data and connect to the internet in a fast and secure manner is set to increase, meaning the demand for bandwidth will continue to increase.  There is an increasing requirement for businesses to ensure they have a sufficient amount of bandwidth to manage data now and into the future.  Gigabit enabled connectivity is a way in which businesses can manage this data growth effectively.

“In line with the global trend, IFB’s clients’ bandwidth consumption has been steadily increasing over a 15 year period, and is set to continue to grow. The demand for bandwidth is going to increase through time and supports the trend of increasing data usage.”

North Sea oil and gas plants alone each create and transfer an incredible 1TB of data every day.

Through close collaboration CityFibre and IFB developed a network route, covering the major business locations throughout the City and began the network build in April 2015.  The network route covers the key business areas within Aberdeen: the city centre, Altens and Tullos, Dyce and Bridge of Don, with businesses in these areas already taking advantage of the ultra-fast speeds of the Aberdeen CORE.

The IoD has called for faster broadband access for homes and business, with members saying that better broadband speeds could increase business productivity, make them more competitive, and enable them to offer more flexible working to their staff.

The IoD report follows communication watchdog Ofcom calling on BT to open up its cable network and allow competition to improve UK internet connections. Ofcom claimed there was a digital divide in the UK between those with the latest technologies, and those without and stated that decent, affordable broadband should be a universal right.

Graeme Gordon comments:

“BT routes go right back to nearly 170 years ago and like an incumbent national provider that has been deregulated it has struggled to keep competitive pace.

“It is heavily regulated in what it can and cannot do for good reason as the national infrastructure needs predictability and stability – if you look at the US for example where no single national provider exists for many reasons the areas of not spots and super-fast connectivity vary wildly, along with costs and service levels.

“In saying that we shouldn’t be looking back at how badly BT was deregulated or is performing but looking forward at the infrastructure and services levels we need from our national digital network.

“The end user cost and speed options for copper-based connections have plateaued over the last 3 years and the majority of land-based digital connections continue to drop in price per megabit and continue to deliver breath-taking increases in speeds.

“It is this drive for fibre to premise networks, such as IFB delivers with the Aberdeen Core network, that we should be looking to BT and other providers to deliver.

“Government can help here through smarter planning – where digital infrastructure must be part of granting planning permission for a new building or development as electricity and water are. Government should also look at how taxation affects the roll out of new fibre network and could encourage these through a lightening on the ‘fibre tax’ together with more progressive view on planning applications.”

As well as being a lead partner in Aberdeen CORE, IFB designs, deploys, manages and supports key services including Cloud, Backup and Recovery, Internet Access, Networks, Hosting, Workplace Recovery and Telecoms across the UK from its Aberdeen data centre.

For two decades IFB has been providing critical connectivity and ICT services to the UK market place. IFB service over 900 clients throughout the UK, with its key markets include the demanding on and offshore oil and gas sector, professional services and public and third sector.

For more information about IFB, visit www.ifb.net or call 0845 270 2101.

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Aug 212015

With thanks to Tom Collins, Press Officer, Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MP MSP

Alex Salmond head and shouldersFollowing Alex Salmond’s calls for the ‘Big Four’ mobile network providers to improve coverage across Aberdeenshire, communications regulator Ofcom has launched a new online checker for consumers and businesses across Gordon and Aberdeenshire East.

Users are able to use the website to see the available coverage for voice calls, 3G and 4G from service providers: 02, Vodafone, EE and Three.

The interactive map can display coverage detail down to 100 square meters, allowing members of the public to make a better decision when choosing their mobile phone plan.

Last month, Mr Salmond wrote to the CEOs of each of the ‘Big Four’ (O2, Vodafone, EE and Three) asking them to provide a full analysis of their existing cover across both constituencies and what they plan to improve their services.

EE responded stating that it plans to increase its 4G coverage in Aberdeenshire East from 41.5 per cent to 95.2 per cent by the year 2017. Similarly, in the Gordon constituency, EE plan to increase 4G coverage from 52.1 per cent to 88.4 per cent by 2017.

Commenting, Mr Salmond said:

“I am pleased to see that Ofcom has launched this service. It will allow members of the public to make a better decision about which company provides the best coverage for their area.

“I am also glad that EE have plans in place to increase their coverage and improve services throughout Aberdeenshire East and Gordon.

“It is now time for the rest of the Big 4 to start using the map themselves and start filling in the enormous blanks that appear throughout Aberdeenshire.”

In his letter to the Big Four, Mr Salmond referenced the village of Methlick which, with a population of 450 people, has no coverage from either Vodafone or O2 – two out of the “big four” carriers – despite not being in a remote or topographically challenging location.

Mr Salmond also tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament recognising that the “big four” need to make significant improvements to their services in the region.

Ofcom online coverage checker: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jul 242015
Aberdeen, Tuesday, 24th March 2015 Clark Integrated Technologies, Auchterless, Turriff, Aberdeenshire, AB53 8EP (Picture by Michal Wachucik/Newsline Media Ltd)

Austen Clark, managing director of Clark IT. Picture by Michal Wachucik/Newsline Media Ltd

With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

Clark Integrated Technologies (Clark IT) is helping businesses in the North and North-east to tap into a government grant of up to £3,000 to enable them to benefit from faster broadband.

Clark IT is participating in the Connection Voucher Scheme (CVS) available to businesses in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and

CVS aims to assist businesses to meet the upfront capital costs of a high speed and high grade broadband connection to the premises.

The CVS covers grants of up to £3,000 for setting up superfast broadband services and is a great opportunity for small and medium enterprises to upgrade their current services and reap the benefits, says Austen Clark, managing director of Clark IT.

“Upgrading broadbrand brings real benefits to businesses and a better connection can help you to boost your bottom line in so many ways,” Mr Clark says.

“This scheme offers businesses, charities, social enterprises and sole traders the potential to benefit from speedier response times, increased staff productivity and perhaps provide real options to migrate to Cloud based solutions such as Office 365 and more.”

Already more than 25,000 vouchers have been issued across the UK, allowing businesses to grow and have the scope to:

  • Increase profits by offering better services to more satisfied customers
  • Improve customer experience with quicker communication and faster file-sharing thanks to higher upload and download speeds, especially for large files
  • Reduce software and hardware costs by helping you switch to online data storage solutions
  • Enhance communication and collaboration through online video conference and cloud-based information sharing
  • Future-proof business with the latest technology to meet customer needs

Broadband Connection Vouchers are available to Small or Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in qualifying areas where installation of a new broadband connection will cost over £100 and where the broadband service selected delivers a speed or performance improvement on the current connection.

Other eligibility rules apply and to find out more about options available to your business, contact Clark IT on 01888 511441 or email  info@clark-it.com

Clark IT has over 20 years of experience in providing industry leading support and delivering business-class technology. The company’s integrated solutions provide industry leading services, productivity and cost effective IT platforms for business growth.

With a client base in both Aberdeen City and Shire, Clark IT has also expanded into the Inverness area.

For more information, see the firm’s website at www.clark-it.com

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Mar 132015

Peacock Visual Arts is looking for an experienced Communications and Marketing Manager to join its Aberdeen-based team. Applicants will have at least two years experience in digital marketing and sales, preferably (though not necessarily) in a fine art context.

peacocklogothmPeacock Visual Arts is the leading contemporary art organisation in Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland.

Funded by Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council it provides facilities for print making, photography, video, digital design and fabrication and presents an international programme of exhibitions, talks, screenings and gigs.

Set up forty years ago as a fine art printmaking workshop it continues to work with major artists from around the world on ambitious and highly acclaimed print publishing and editioning projects.

Reporting to the Director, the Communications and Marketing Manager will be responsible for all Peacock’s communications and marketing and, with the Print Curator, for developing and implementing successful sales strategies.


The aim of the post is threefold:

  • Increase participation in all Peacock’s activities.
  • Raise its profile locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Increase income from print sales.

Salary: Negotiable depending on skills and experience.

For further information and to download the full Job Description please visit http://www.peacockvisualarts.com/ or request it by emailing sarah@peacockvisualarts.co.uk.

The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon Monday 6 April.

(You will be notified if you have been selected for interview by Thursday 9 April. Interviews will take place on Tuesday 14 April.)

For the interview you will be expected to bring examples of your professional design work and other examples that you admire.

Nov 282013

Burnhervie duncan harley tommy cat featDuncan Harley looks somewhat sideways at the sell-off of the UK Postal Service.

Recent headlines, such as “City banking giants will rake in nearly £17million in fees from the flotation of Royal Mail, despite accusations yesterday of having failed the taxpayer”, may not represent the complete picture.

Postman Pat’s cat is probably still licking her paws with glee. At an undervaluation of about 220p per Royal Mail share she can almost certainly afford to stock up on cat treats.

The Royal Mail shares famously opened at 330p each during the October 2013 sell off. Now valued at an enhanced 550p they represent a hefty profit indeed for the City fat cats. Do the math. It will probably amaze.

In addition, the City advisors stand to earn fees of 0.8% of the funds raised in the sell-off. Some such as Goldman Sachs and UBS have already received more than £12m in fees, with much more due when the 0.8% of the total sale fee is computed.

The government’s independent advisor, a Limited Company by the name of Lazard who are billed as “a global financial advisory and asset management firm that engages in investment banking, asset management, and other financial services primarily with institutional clients” has already received some £1.5m, with much more to come.

Around £12.7million has already been paid in fees to the seven banks involved in the privatisation. Much more taxpayers’ cash is likely to be paid out in the next few months in fees and commissions to banking advisors and institutions hired by the elected representatives of the UK, who have been charged with the safeguarding of public resources and ensuring good value for money in the sale of the Royal Mail business.

The UK Government was of course quite right to seek advice about the sale of Royal Mail. After all it is a 420-year-old UK business with some 100,000 employees, many of whom would become jobless should the share deal go wrong.

Burnhervie Post box Duncan HarleyIt seems however that the sell-off advisors to HM Government now expect to be paid for what for many seems like particularly bad advice prior to the Royal Mail flotation.

David Cameron has publicly backed the Margaret Thatcher Museum this week.
Seemingly it will be replete with memorabilia from the decade or so of that era. Empty villages, streets full of unemployed folk, destroyed communities and lost opportunities.

Some suggest that bus tours through the wastelands of the mining villages of Wales and Scotland might be a better use of the £43m cost of the museum project. Others wonder about Scottish Independence or even emigration.

Let’s hope that Cameron’s legacy does not include tours of the empty and desolate postal sorting offices of our towns and villages.

A parody of the Swiss bank Goldman Sachs exists at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx4poQw1mZo

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May 132013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

Apologies for the late arrival of this service; it’s been a busy week.

John Aberdein, author of works including Strip the Willow, was in town, and I am pleased to have been able to spend some time with him.

We met at the May Day March, where a surprisingly large number of people attended.

You almost got a sense that people weren’t all that happy with the way central government is bringing us economic prosperity.

There were some interesting speeches on issues such as the bedroom tax, health assessments, inflation, loss of workers’ rights, forced employment, austerity, exploiting young workers, service cuts and closures, and other trivialities. 

For some reason I could only see Labour councillors around.

I’d hoped some of our Conservative and LibDem councillors would be on hand to dispel the Labour propaganda; they could have for instance given back-up for the Department of Work & Pensions’ claim that one in four people on sickness benefit is fit for work.  I’d have also appreciated their reassurances that everything is fine and that ‘we’re all in it together’.

I keep meaning to ask a ConDem councillor exactly what ‘it’ is that we’re all in together?  Economic prosperity?  Fair taxes and a fair society?  A bed of roses?  I’d love to ask for instance Councillor Gillian Owen what ‘it’ is, but alas!  She’s not going to be communicating with me.

I could conceivably have done or written something upsetting, but I now have the anxiety of waiting until Christmas time to see whether or not she’ll be sending me a card.

Rather than only offering definitions this week, I thought a portrait of Councillor Owen might make a refreshing and pleasant change, together with some related timely terms.

Councillor Gillian Owen: (Proper noun; name of an elected official in Aberdeenshire)

Conservative Party Councillor for Ellon & District, Aberdeenshire Council. Chair of the Council’s Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Scrutiny and Audit Committee

Councillor Gillian Owen is a multitalented woman, serving her ward and its constituents, overseeing the Scrutiny and Audit Committee, and, er. working at Snappy Snaps now and then.

Alas!  I seem to have offended the lady; I’ve no idea how that could be.  Some weeks ago, a number of Aberdeenshire residents gave me permission to write to their councillors on their behalf.  Oddly enough, some residents don’t think their elected officials are taking them and their views seriously enough.

clearly she wanted me to call instead, as she sent her mobile number

When I wrote to councillors, some were slightly hostile; some were slightly helpful, and some simply didn’t write back to me or their constituents (they probably get so much fan mail that they don’t really have time to answer it all).

But Cllr Owen’s modest replies warmed my heart and the hearts of those voters who’d asked me to write to her in the first place.

When first contacted about her friend Donald Trump’s development and its slight tendency to occasionally deviate from the plan, she wrote:-

“As previously requested remove this email. I do not wish to receive emails from you.”

I did try to remove the email, but I didn’t have much luck.  She said she didn’t want to receive emails from me; clearly she wanted me to call instead, as she sent her mobile number.

I thought I’d clarify why I was writing, and sent this:-

“Reminder Councillor:  I am writing at the behest of your constituents – shall I tell them you do not want to hear from them?  Thank you for clarifying//END”

To which Gillian Owing-Trump-A-Favour replied:-


Which was rather thoughtful; full caps are so much easier for Old Susannah to read.  Her constituents who’d asked me to write were touched by this warm exchange; no doubt these words deserve a wider audience.

Scrutiny and Audit Committee: (compound proper noun) A group within Aberdeenshire Council looking into issues including:-

  • “Residents and Employee Surveys;
  • “Internal and external audit reports;
  • ” Issues raised by residents, local community groups and external organisations…”

Residents of course already know how deeply their councillors care about their concerns.  It is reassuring Cllr Owen is at the helm, helping to decide what issues raised by residents will be scrutinised and audited.

As David Milne’s petition going before Holyrood on 14 May has nearly 19,000 signatories demanding a public inquiry into the handling of the post-approval developments at Trump Scotland, Gillian will doubtless prioritise this issue for her constituents.  I’d ask her to confirm this myself, but she’s not going to answer.

If any readers living in the Shire would like her committee to look at issues of policing, security, environment, rights of access, adherence to the Outdoor Access Code and so on at the Menie Estate, she can be contacted at Cllr.G.Owen@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  – just tell her Old Susannah sent you.

‘And what are the values of this committee?’ I practically hear people asking.  They are:-

“Open, Transparent, Investigative, Deliberative, Evidence-based, Accountable, Responsive, Inclusive, Influencing, Flexible, Proactive, Non-partisan and Outward Looking.”

How important indeed it is to be open, transparent, accountable and responsive is reflected in so many things councillors do.  As an aide to that transparency and openness, electors have the right to know more about their councillors.  One way this noble aim is accomplished is via the Register of Interests.

Register of Interests: (compound noun) A detailed record, legally required, showing the outside interests (paid and unpaid), hospitality received and other activities of councillors so that any potential conflicts of interest can be identified and compromising situations avoided.

Codes of ethics and standards are hardly necessary for our elected officials; I for one am happy to take it on good faith that they are all working without any thought of reward other than their salaries and that they would not compromise themselves by taking inappropriate hospitality.

For instance First Minister Alex Salmond is still feeling the heat for meeting with Donald Trump while planning issues were being discussed.  At least I guess he must have recorded the hospitality on his register of interests’ entry.  Not doing so would be rather naughty indeed.  I do get the feeling that any future dinners are somewhat unlikely.

“The Register is accurate as at today’s date [April 25 2013]”  – an Aberdeenshire council employee confirmed to me recently.  I had asked for clarification, as amazingly, Councillor Owen’s record did not show any remuneration, shares, election expenses, or gifts and hospitality.

Many are impressed by this saintly abstention from gifts and hospitality; it contrasts greatly with the record of old City councillor Kate Dean [Who she?  Ed], who had managed to get to a heck of a lot of events indeed.  No, our Councillor Owen is too busy to write to me or for any socialising or gift-getting.  Canonisation cannot be far off.

Newsletter: (noun) A means, printed or electronic, of updating people on current events, news, etc.

One thing Councillor Owen does have time for is keeping us all updated on the latest news.  Her newsletter can normally be found here (I have randomly chosen a lovely story link from the site):-


But alas!  This newsletter website was down last night.  Happily it is back up and running now, for I foresee an increased interest in it.

Just in case the site is not working when any Aberdeen Voice readers try to access it I’m certain that Cllr Owen-us-an-explanation will be more than happy for me to share this lovely photo, which I managed to save as a screenshot from her newsletter some time ago:-

It’s amazing what can happen when two world-class celebrities get together; I don’t know about you, but I simply adore this image.

This is text of the story in case it can’t be accessed on line for some reason:-

“I had the pleasure today to see at first had the new Trump International Golf Links at Menie. I must say it was a marvellous sight and a fantastic golf course.  I have supported this development since it came before the Area committee five years ago and have always believed that it will provide the North East with a superb facility and a legacy which will grow and one day I hope will host The Open.  Enjoy a couple of the photos that I took today!”  

Thank you Gillian, we will enjoy the rest of those photos indeed. (I fear my odds of getting my copy of the Owen-Trump photograph signed are somewhat low; if any readers who are getting glossy prints made of this great picture autographed could ask for a spare signed copy one for me, I’d be most grateful.  I might however just run down to Snappy Snaps to get some blow-ups made.  I suppose Gillian got her copies made there; I wonder if there was an employee discount.)

Let’s hope it was a very very quick visit or our Councillor would have been tempted to have a coffee, tea, or meal – and as we know, the prices for a bite at the temporary clubhouse are slightly more expensive than a Big Mac Meal.

Obviously, any hospitality taken in July at the world’s greatest golf course would have shown up on the gifts register, particularly as Owen-Trump-A-Lunch seems likely to have voting power which could benefit her friend and ours, Donald.   Again if anyone wanted to bring any issues to the attention of Cllr Owen for scrutiny, please see her email address above.

While I am at it, another useful website address just happens to be at hand; this is for Standards Commission Scotland   http://www.standardscommissionscotland.org.uk/ .  If you have for any reason any issues of potential conflict of interests, incomplete register of interest entries and so on, the Standards Commission might be a good website to visit.

Next week:  A look at some recent Freedom of Information requests, and possibly some more on ethics, conflict of interest, gifts, hospitality and so on

PS:  All the best to David Milne tomorrow as he attends Holyrood trying to get a much-needed public inquiry into the catalogue of disasters that ensued following planning permission going to Trump at Menie.  At last count there were over 19,000 people wanting answers as to how the planners, councillors, police, environmental advisory group MEMAG, the countryside access officers and so on acted.   Holyrood has to agree to this inquiry.

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Feb 282013

By Bob Smith.

The Wireless ah the memories
O listenin fin I wis a loon
On dark winters nichts roon the fire
Oor Ecko radio it  sure wis a boon
There wis Dick Barton Special Agent
Fa took on aa the baddies
It fair sharpened the imagination
O fowk like us as laddies
Paul Temple an ace dectective
As weel as yon PC49
Solvin aa the nations crimes
Their adventures I likit fine
Fin I wis a bittie younger
Tammy Troot wis aa the rage
His escapades in the river
Held yer attention for an age
Setterday nicht jist efter tea
Ye sat an listen’t ti the story
O a Glesga faimily’s daily lives
The McFlannels wis nivver gory
Scottish Dance Music we aye likit
Wi Jimmy Shand an Adam Rennie
Their bands hid ye tappin yer feet
Jimmy an Adam were twa o’ many
Sports Report on the Licht Programme
Gied ye aa the fitba scores
Ye hid reports on the horse racin
As weel as Oxford an Cambridge rowers
Jet Morgan an his grand adventures
In the programme “Journey Into Space”
Hid ye jumpin up an doon
Wid he vanish withoot a trace
Comedy shows like Take It From Here
Wid hae ye laachin loud an lang
The Goons hid ye in stitches ti
Wi their funny “Ying Tong” sang
Their wis ither delights on the radio
Faar ower mony ti write doon
This his bin jist a flavour
O the wireless fin I wis a loon

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2010

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